Luke 16.1-31 contains several midrashic aggadot (parables) aimed primarily at the Pharisees of Beit Shammai who dominated Jewish life in the first century and were lovers of money. It will contain a parable about an unjust steward, using money, faithfulness in little things and serving two masters, the scoffing of the Pharisees from Shammai, God’s Torah is unchanging, divorce or separating from a wife without a biblical cause (see Matt 19.8-9 notes), and the parable about Lazarus and the rich Man (the Pharisees of Beit Shammai). Again, for a deeper understanding about Beit Shammai and how these Pharisees are interacting with Yeshua in the gospels, read the book, “Jesus the Pharisee: by Harvey Falk, WIPF and Stock Publishers.
v 1…Now he was also saying to his talmidim, “There was a certain rich man who had a steward (the Pharisees of Beit Shammai will see themselves in this parable in v 14), and this steward was accused to him as wasting his possessions.
v 2…And he called him (as Yeshua has called them through the Torah, the Prophets, John as to why they corrupted the word of God; their covetousness for money, houses, land, and worldly things) and said to him, ‘What is this I hear about you? Give an account of your stewardship, for you can no longer be steward.’
v 3…And the steward said to himself, ‘What shall I do, since my master is taking the stewardship away from me. I am not strong enough to dig (do manual labor), I am ashamed to beg (like a blind man or cripple).
v 4…I know what I will do (it dawned on him), so that when I am removed from the stewardship, they will receive me into their homes (of the debtors-the Pharisees took more time in preparing for acceptance into an earthly house than most do securing a place in the house of God).’
v 5…And he summoned each one of his master’s debtors, and he began saying to the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’
v 6…And he said, ‘A hundred measures of oil.’ And he said to him, ‘Take your bill, and sit down quickly and write fifty.’
v 7…And he said to another, ‘And how much do you owe?’ And he said, ‘A hundred measures of wheat.’ And he said to him, ‘Take your bill and write eighty (a twenty percent loss).’
v 8…And his master praised the unrighteous steward because he acted wisely (prudently), for the sons of this age are wiser in relation to their own kind than the sons of light (he commended him not for the injustice of it all, but for his shrewdness in providing for himself in the future).
v 9…And I say to you, make friends for yourselves by means of the unrighteous mammon (giving money to help the poor and needy), that when it fails (at your death), they may receive you into everlasting dwellings (not just earthly ones-the unrighteous steward used his master’s money to buy worldly favors; believers are to use Yehovah’s money to invest in the kingdom to bring sinners to eternal life and be welcomed by them into the kingdom. Yeshua is using this parable to show that even the wicked are shrewd enough to provide for themselves against future calamity).
v 10…He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much, and he who is unrighteous in a very little thing is unrighteous also in much.
v 11…If therefore you have not been faithful in the use of unrighteous mammon (money), who will entrust the true riches to you (heavenly, spiritual matters)?
v 12…And if you have not been faithful is the use of that which is another’s, who will give you that which is your own (to manage)?
v 13…No servant can serve two masters (with equal allegiance); for either he will hate (take lightly) the one, and love the other, or else he will hold (fast) to one and despise the other (take it lightly). You cannot serve God and Mammon (money (you are not able to do it).”
v 14…Now the Pharisees (from Beit Shammai), who were lovers of money (and will be seen as the Rich Man in the following aggadah), were listening to all these things, and were scoffing at him (turning up their noses because they were greedy and covetous).
v 15…And he said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves (boasted of their righteousness-Luke 10.25-59; they posed as righteous-Matt 5.20) in the sight of men, but God knows your hearts (desires, thoughts, intentions); for that which is highly esteemed among men (outward appearances) is detestable in the sight of God.
v 16…The Law (Torah) and the Prophets (Nevi’im) prophesied concerning John, since then the gospel (basar) of the kingdom of God (this movement and rule in action and power) is preached and everyone is entering his way into it (that he may enter into it; but Beit Shammai tried to hinder it by their doctrines-Matt 23.13; see Matt 11.12 notes and also the book called “Understanding the Difficult Words of Jesus” by David Bivin and Roy Blizzard, p. 84-87).
v 17…But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one stroke of the letter of the Law (Torah) to fail (the weakness is in man, not the Torah).
v 18…Everyone who divorces (sends out or separates) without a biblical bill of divorce) and marries another commits adultery (divorce with a biblical cause is allowed-Deut 24.1-4; Exo 21.10-11); and he who marries one who is divorced (sent out or separated without a biblical bill of divorce) from a husband commits adultery (on a side note, there was a controversy in the first century between Beit Shammai and Beit Hillel. Beit Shammai said a man should not divorce his wife unless he has found an indecency in her biblically. On the other hand, Beit Hillel allowed divorce for any reason, even trivial transgressions).
Luke 16.19-31 is a midrashic aggadah (parable) that has Beit Shammai in mind (the context) who were rich, religious leaders and lovers of money, and he is dealing with the Pharisees (v 14). This parable was to show them that with all their riches and outward appearance of righteousness, they may be lost.
v 19…Now there was a certain rich man (the Pharisees and scribes of Beit Shammai in particular for this parable, but not limited to them only) and he dressed habitually in purple (worn by the rich and royal) and fine linen (alludes to their self-righteousness-Matt 23.5), gaily living in splendor every day (Matt 23.6).
v 20…And a certain poor man named Lazarus (Eliezer meaning “God helps; he is a type of Yeshua) laid at his gate (Yeshua had no place to lay his head) covered in sores (Isa 53.4),
v 21…and longing to be fed with the crumbs which were falling down from the man’s table (left-overs; Yeshua left out of the religious circles); besides, even the dogs were coming and licking his sores (the non-Jews who came to him like the Samaritans, the Syro-Phoenician woman, and those who will come later; they encouraged him with their faith in him).
v 22…Now it came about that the poor man died (Yeshua died) and he was carried away by the angels to Abraham’s Bosom (Paradise, a term for heaven) and the rich man also died (in unbelief) and was buried.
v 23…And in Hades (Hebrew “Sheol” or the abide of the dead) he lifted up his eyes, being in torment (because his eyes were now open to see his spiritual mistakes and lost opportunities); and saw Abraham far away (distance in spiritual space does not relate to a measurable distance as in physical space and movement; “near” means “similar to” and “far” means “different or opposite”), and Lazarus in his bosom.
v 24…And he cried out and said, ‘Father Abraham (his seed, a type of Yehovah)), have mercy on me and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in agony in this flame (his conscience-dipping his finger in water alludes to an oblation and washing purification ceremonies, referring to pardon, forgiveness, comfort and rest)!’
v 25…But Abraham said, ‘Child (in flesh only), remember that during your life you received your good things (earthly blessings), and likewise Lazarus bad things (poverty, surrounded by evil); but now he is being comforted here, and you are in agony.
v 26…And besides all this, between us and you is a great chasm (the decree of God that fixes the eternal state of the righteous and the wicked) in order that those who wish to come over from here to you may not cross over from there to us.’
v 27…And he said, ‘Then I beg you Father, that you send him to my father’s house,
v 28…for I have five brothers (the Jewish people that were not being taught correctly and were unprepared)-that he may warn them, lest they also come to this place of torment.’
v 29…But Abraham said, ‘They (the Jewish people) have Moses (Torah) and the Prophets (John 5.39-47); let them hear them.’
v 30…But he said to him, ‘No, Father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent!”
v 31…But he said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be persuaded if someone rises from the dead (“Lazarus” did come back from the dead but they were negligent of the Torah and the Prophets and were ignorant of the prophecies, and the story was met with unbelief-Matt 28.11-15; Luke 24.25-27).’ “
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